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Dec 21, 2007 05:08 AM

"Traditional" English Christmas dinner?

My husband's been reading a lot of Shakespeare and Dickens this year and I've been re-reading Jane Austen. So, it's just us and 2 kids for Christmas dinner -- he suggested we tend toward a "traditional" or old-fashioned English Christmas dinner for something different. (We're in the U.S.)

We're not going to do goose for 4 (including 2 children), but I'm thinking of a standing rib roast and Yorkshire pudding (have checked the threads for those already). But I'm hoping for suggestions to fill out the meal... We're willing to put in the effort, even if we do a few separate things simple enough for our kids (who are mixed in their adventurous eating stages).

What sides would you suggest (whether they are "English" or just good)?

Can I still do a Christmas pudding-type recipe this close to the holiday? Or is "Stirring up" day essential for the soak?

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  1. Roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, roasted potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts. Trifle for sweet.

    1 Reply
    1. re: pikawicca

      Ditto pikawicca's suggestions. That's exactly the menu I would choose. Maybe mix some chestnuts and/or lardons in with the Brussels sprouts.

    2. There's no reason you can't make a Christmas pudding four days before serving. The day you make it is "stirring up" day.

      1. Most of what would be served with standing rib roast in the US would be served in the UK. You could try doing a stilton sauce with the roast, mushy peas on the side, though I like brussel sprouts pan roasted with streaky bacon and garlic.

        Christmas pud is utterly required. If you don't have the time to make one, you can easily pick up a decent packaged version from most major department stores at this time of year.

        1. Almost without exception, Christmas dinner in the UK will be turkey.

          "Standard" accompaniments would be roast potato, carrots and spouts with chestnuts. There would also be at least one, possibly two stuffings - sage & onion and chestnut (if you're not having chestnuts with the sprouts). And bread sauce.

          "Stir up Sunday" is traditionally a month before Christmas so you won't now have time for it to mature. But the "light pudding" on this link might well work:

          6 Replies
          1. re: Brit on a Trip

            When I lived in England in the 60's, NO ONE ate turkey except American expats (and it tasted like fish because farmers fed the birds fishmeal). Christmas dinner was either goose or roast beef (far more popular).

            1. re: pikawicca

              You're right (roast pork or chicken was always our family Christmas dinner).

              But intensive battery farming over the last 40 years now means turkey (and chicken for that matter) is now a very cheap meat in the UK. Even if it has become tasteless and is unethically raised.

              You can buy organic or free-range birds from the supermarket, but they are not cheap. For a 10 pound organic bird, cost is about £60 ($120). It's what we'll be having.

              1. re: pikawicca

                Hi iam English living near London and was born in the Late 1960s, and in my life time it is turkey,for Christmas. i do not know of many that have goose, that seem more from 1860. True some do have rost beef. But for me it has to be free range turkey with pigs in blankets.

                1. re: BTX5MG

                  Your earliest food memories are from the 1970's, hardly "traditional."

                  1. re: pikawicca

                    But there's stuff from the 70s in antiques stores now ... ;)

                    1. re: foiegras

                      And Le Creuset has brought back the 2 1/2 quart oval cocotte I bought with wedding cash in the '70's as a (per Williams-Sonoma's holiday catalogue ad) HERITAGE item. How to feel old department.

            2. In our California Christmas dinners of two ex-pat working class English families (came from London and Lancashire in the 20's), we always had turkey or boiled ham, frenched green beans, fresh horse beans (favas) if available (if not, then Brussels sprouts) pan-roasted white potatoes, pan gravy if turkey served, boiled field mushrooms, creamed pearl onions with peas, and trifle for dessert, with mincemeat tarts for the older generation. Dinner was early, about 4, and dessert served at about 7.

              Prime beef roast was too expensive to serve at our large get-togethers, so turkey subbed for goose which was not available. Turkey was .29# in those days. A turkey or ham would feed everyone with plenty leftover for several days.

              These dinners were fun because every family had their specialty they contributed. Mom cooked the main dish and the frenched green beans and pototoes, Aunt Joan brought fresh rolls and mincemeat tarts, Gram made the creamed onions and the gravy. Dad would gather the Brussels sprouts at a friend's dairy (used for cattle feed) and wild mushrooms at the local golf course, and raid the local orchards for horsebeans which were grown by the ranchers as a nitirogen-fixing cover crop (fertilizer). We kids had the job of shelling the horsebeans. I developed the knack for feeding them (blech) under the table to the cat.

              2 Replies
              1. re: toodie jane

                toodie jane, how was the milk from the brussels sprouts cows?

                1. re: alkapal

                  who knows? the old time Santa Cruz Swiss-Italian family (3 batchelor brothers and their sister) refused to "update" the old family run dairy, (to cement floors, milking machines, drugs, etc) so they sold their milk to a canned milk company, CarnationI think, up in the SF Bay Area.

                  The cows grazed on sweet seaside grasses and watercress, got homegrown apples and pumpkins too, so it was probably pretty good. My mom was lucky enough to have had fresh raw milk and cream and to have eaten (snitched) some cheese from the cheesehouse as a kid. No cheese being made by the time we kids came along in the 50's, sad to say. Just plenty of fond memories of ice cream made for visits by kids old and young! No sprouts flavor in that as I recall!